11 JANUARY 2004

Perspectives on dating

1. The Bible does not talk about dating; nevertheless, there are many passages which help us anyway.

Analogy: there are no scriptures on smoking, but there are principles which enable us to intelligently address the issue. One passage helping us with dating is 1 Timothy 5:2 (absolute purity between the sexes). Other great passages: Genesis 2:24 (God's plan for marriage); Genesis 29 and 34 (the contrast between Jacob and Shechem, one waiting for love and the other taking matters into his own hands); and Hebrews 13:4 (the sanctity of marriage and the marriage bed).

2. Dating is a relatively modern cultural phenomenon.
Really, if we were going to insist on imitating biblical culture, there would be no dating at all! Do not let yourself be hypnotized by Hollywood's glamorization of romance etc.

3. Dating may be helpful, though it is not essential, biblically speaking.
Genesis 24: Isaac was looking for a type of person, more than searching for the ideal individual woman. His servant sought a (a) spiritual and (b) selfless woman. The marriage relationship worked'even though they never met before the day they become husband and wife!

Perspectives on marriage

1. Marriage is not for everyone.
Ecclesiastes 4 is a nice passage to illustrate marriage ("Two are better than one"), but strictly speaking it is not about marriage! (The "cord of three strands" does not suggest bigamy!) 1 Corinthians 7:7 is a much neglected passage in modern Christian culture. We do people a disservice by assuming that everyone fits into the marriage mold. Marriage is not or everyone. (Teasing the singles can be harmful.)

2. True love can wait.
As we saw in Genesis 29, instant gratification is not the way of spirituality. Also, in Song of Songs we read, "Do not awaken love" until the time is right.

3. Marriage is full of trouble and joy.
Let's be honest (1 Corinthians 7:28). Christians should speak the truth. Marriage is a tremendous blessing, but still there is hardship involved, and not all is pleasant or easy. Many dating websites like, are dedicated to help people find their true love.

4. A Christian must marry only another Christian.
Many O.T. passages forbid marrying outside the covenant. Especially read the final chapters of Ezra and of Nehemiah. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 7:39 is very clear. 2 Corinthians 6 (unequal yoking) relates to sharing relationships of idolatry with unbelievers'and by way of extension, to any close alliance with an outsider.

The goal in marriage is perfect unity. This is simply may not be possible in some cases: where one partner is excessively immature; or the husband may travel 11 months of the year; or partners are divided on central matters of the faith (such as how one becomes a Christian).

My position: Marrying outside the faith is a sin. Dating outside the faith, therefore, is a very, very bad idea. Still, if someone (in violation of the scriptures) decides to marry outside the faith, there is no "easy out"; he/she must remain dedicated to the spouse. God can bring good things out of bad choices.